A catalyst of these bold thoughts is the Asian way of thinking about the responsibility of every person, about the requirement of relying on your own strength, to serve the nation without expecting a reward, to believe in the rebirth of the Asian origin, to devote one's strength to this revival.
This process of returning to the roots can clearly be seen in Eastern Asia's contemporary cinema. However, present cinema - looking into itself through contemplation - is an inheritor of another XXth century cinema, that of Yasujiro Ozu.
Since the similarities between Ozu's films and today's "contemplative cinema" have already been spotted, let me explore and try to justify my way of understanding Ozu's slowness, preliminary stating that this retardation today has evolved on a much larger scale.
Ozu's post-war contemplative style can be seen forming in his earlier custom-focused films, such as the later-remade 1934 A Story of Floating Weeds. Although here the purpose of the camera is to turn the viewer into a kind of stalker (a decision implied in Bruno Dumont's Flandres in a more distant and coldly transitioned way), certain moments hint towards observing, namely those post-action, empty-framed, after-the-content-curve seconds, which Girish spoke of, during which the viewer is left with a bare shot, deprived of human presence, confusedly wondering what to make of the inanimate setting.
During the 12th and 13th century Japan discovered and perfected a kind of garden that surrounded tea-spaces and comforted towards contemplation, self-observation and meditation. These gardens, constructed similarly to Buddhist monastries, were entered through a path which lead, along a corridor, to the small tea-room at the far end. While entering, visitors had to bend their head (due to the low door), which expressed their respect. The path to the room was considered a road of thinking. It seems to me that those after-the-content-curve moments in Ozu's film are, in fact, such little paths, though, in reverse orther. If a person has to purify and think before the tea ceremony, here one needs the event of the shot in order to comprehend it. The director occasionally provides such meditation paths, which are an actionless continuation of the action.
Another point, which applies to all of Ozu's films, is the low camera angle at the height of a sitting man. This is a position close to the one of a meditating Buddha - isolated from the world and devoted to self-observation, but also of a kneeing man, expressing admiration. Thus, the viewer is placed in a position which intuitively provokes contemplation as well as unprejudiced appreciation.
One thing that especially puzzled me was the recurrence of still, inanimate pots-full shots. The same is present in Eric Khoo's 2005 Be With Me, although there the dramaturgian validity is due to a different cause, possibly the suggestion of deafness, stillness, muteness. Then, a Japanese garden style gave me an answer. "Shinden" or "rock arden", or "zen garden" is an artistic composition of a number of rocks. It plays with the conceptions of beauty and the way we experience the three dimensions. Ozu's household compositions very much resemble their zen-ness and minimalism in searching a simplicity of forms and organising space.
During the Tang dynasty (and later the Song dynasty, 10-13 c.) between 7-10 century, the Chinese landscape painting was developed and mastered as well as transfered in Japan and South Korea. It carried the idea of nature being a vastness of space which the human eye can embrace in only one look. Thus was initiated a tradition of interpreting Chinese landscapes (mountains and rivers, mainly) into wide or long silk canvases of succeeding plans. When a mountain chain had to be drawn, the artist unfolded the silk roll horisontally; while when the landscape consisted of high sharp peaks, he unfolded it vertically in order to spread the image into a number of plans one on top of the other. The same technique was later adopted by Japanese masters and can be detected in Ozu's organisation of the frame.
The last shot, on the other hand, forwards to Angelopoulos's The Weeping Meadow.
The sky had to compulsory be present in the painting.
Three times can Ozu's camera be seen moving and it is done linearly. Every time it tries to envelop a large group of people/objects. Two of these three times it spreads aside an audience - too big to detailedly be grasped as a whole. The last time it slides along a sequence of organised pots - gradually separating groups of structured "zen compositions."
I perceive this directorial decision as a reference to the imposibility of encompassing the immensity of the landscape painting. It was drawn in such detail and accuracy of the lines that one had to got close in order to appreciate them. Thus, however, one couldn't see the whole, but could only read it - image by image. I believe Ozu applied this technique in order to create a similar effect: add an emphasis on the beauty of the single detail and how it flows rhythmically into the whole entity.